Thursday, April 15, 2010
I'm glad that the recent visiting speakers have been addressing uses of technology in urban planning. I usually think of the channels of city bureaucracy that people have to navigate through when they embark on a city planning project or how cold and impersonal using technology can seem, but the recent talks have made me more hopeful that technology can bring more efficiency to urban planning without removing the personal touch. Sarah Williams, for instance, used cell phone tracking to research traffic in the city, but added a personal, interactive aspect with the text-in for historical information fliers. I was especially impressed by the projects that James Patten presented. I appreciated that he kept a running theme of tailoring interfaces to be more organic and interactive so that technology becomes as much about the project and the people using it as it is about the function of the programs. In the case of the telephone pole mapping project, the technology made the process much more practical and efficient, but still allowed for people working on the project to impose social and cultural restraints on the technology. Although the DJ application was less related to city planning, I think it was very appropriate to Baltimore because of the electronic music scene. There are so many shows where the performer is just working with a laptop or synthesizer. Although adding a more tangible interface may not have that much influence on function, it's good to see people thinking about bringing the performance aspect back to electronic music.